Gold: Lions mustim­prove

The Jewish Chronicle - - Sport - BYDANNYCARO

Lon­don Lions man­ager Tony Gold is con­fi­dent that his troops can make a win­ning start to the Spartan South Mid­lands League when they take on Lon­don Col­ney to­mor­row.

Based at Brox­bourne Bor­ough FC, the team won the Herts Cen­te­nary Cup last sea­son and fin­ished in the top half of the league in their first sea­son at this level.

But their chances have been hit by the loss of two key play­ers, and last week­end’s cur­tain-raiser against Berkham­st­e­dended­in­fail­ureas­t­hey­w­erethumped 6-0 in the Herts Char­ity Shield.

Now Gold has set his squad a clear ob­jec­tive for the sea­son ahead.

“My ex­pec­ta­tion would be to build on last year and try to im­prove on our fi­nal league­po­si­tionof eighth,”he­said.“How­ever, in or­der to achieve this, we will need a greater com­mit­ment from the play­ers and greater con­sis­tency through­out the long sea­son, some­thing which is much eas­ier said than done.

“As each new sea­son un­folds, it seems play­ers be­come less and less com­mit­ted and seem to find more ex­cuses not to play.

“One im­por­tant les­son I have learnt over the years is not to ex­pect too much from any­one, be­cause all that ends up hap­pen­ing is that you find your­self in a po­si­tion of frus­tra­tion and de­spon­dency.

“This sea­son, I would quite sim­ply set­tle for a squad of lads who just want to play foot­ball twice a week con­sis­tently, look for­ward to train­ing once a week and en­joy play­ing com­pet­i­tive foot­ball at a de­cent level. “Re­peat­ing our cup suc­cess of last year would also be nice. It’s a very achiev­able goal, if we ap­ply our­selves in the right man­ner.”

The Lions have lost James Ger­sh­field and Craig El­lis, who helped Team GB win gold at last month’s Euro­pean Mac­cabi Games. Gold said: “Sev­eral in­flu­en­tial play­ers from last sea­son have de­cided that they would like to chal­lenge them­selves at a higher level of foot­ball and I wish them well.

“James has joined Pot­ters Bar Town while Craig has re­turned to Win­gate & Finch­ley but in all hon­esty, he rarely played last sea­son due to in­jury and other com­mit­ments.

“Guy Morris is on a sab­bat­i­cal but I hope he will re­turn be­fore the end of Septem­ber.”

One­new­face­who­has­comein­isDean Ny­man, a player Gold de­scribes as “a ma­jor sign­ing”. He said: “Dean is a true pro­fes­sional in ev­ery­thing he does. He has played at a con­sis­tently good level for many years and is a fan­tas­tic char­ac­ter to have around the club and squad.

“Los­ing Ger­sh­field is ob­vi­ously a blow due to the goals he scored last year but Dean is more then ca­pa­ble of match­ing and even bet­ter­ing that.

“Ben Sol­losi has also been train­ing reg­u­larly and looks like a good prospect so we hope to have him signed be­fore the sea­son starts.” The Lions have en­tered the FA Vase for the first time, and face Lon­don ASPA on Septem­ber 1 1 . Gold said: “ I t ’ s a de­served re­ward fol­lowi n g a h u g e l y s uc­cessf ul pe­riod in the club’s his­tory and for all the hard work that goes on both on and off the pitch.”

Al­though the vic­to­ri­ous GB squad was made up of pre­dom­i­nantly Lions play­ers, Gold said that many will be play­ing catch-up in terms of pre-sea­son and fit­ness.

“Vi­enna was fan­tas­tic for those in­volved,” he said. “Ul­ti­mately, it fea­tured90per­centof mysquad­which­has proved highly dis­rup­tive for our over­all prepa­ra­tions for the new sea­son. It has been far from ideal.

“Ev­ery sin­gle team in our league, bar none,would­have­or­will­be­clos­e­to­com­plet­ing what I would con­sider to be a proper pre-sea­son pro­gramme. I would es­ti­mate our squad is prob­a­bly be­tween five or six weeks be­hind ev­ery­one else in re­la­tion to fit­ness, team un­der­stand­ing, set-piece work and over­all game play.”

Work­ing along­side as­sis­tant Steve Gren­fell, the for­mer Spurs player, Gold has tipped Hod­des­don Town, Kings Lan­g­ley, Lon­don Col­ney and Cran­field Unit­ed­to­bethe­main­chal­lengers,along with newly-pro­moted Lang­ford and Ken­tish Town.

He said: “The Spartan South Mid­lands Leagueisacom­plete­ly­d­if­fer­ent­ty­pe­and style of foot­ball com­pared to what the lads played and pre­pared for in Vi­enna. They will need to re­vert back quickly.

“Win­ning and know­ing how to win be­comes a good habit, so hope­fully that side of things will rub off more fre­quently as the sea­son un­folds. The vast ma­jor­ity of the Vi­enna lads trained for a Euro­pean-style foot­ball. Fit­ness lev­els are nowhere near the lev­els I would ex­pect for this time of year, es­pe­cially for the phys­i­cal and fast paced foot­ball we will be play­ing week in, week out in the Spartan League.”

Now Gold is look­ing for more play­ers from the Mac­cabi League to step up and chal­lenge for a place at the coun­try’s premier Jewish foot­ball team.

“If you be­lieve you have the abil­ity and can make a real com­mit­ment to it, then do it. At least give your­self the op­por­tu­nity and ex­pe­ri­ence of tast­ing it.

“The key word here though is com­mit­ment. To­day’s gen­er­a­tion of kids are very dif­fer­ent to my gen­er­a­tion. It seems that fewer play­ers, and es­pe­cially Jewish foot­ballers, lack that de­sire to test them­selves at the high­est lev­els avail­able to them. A lot of play­ers to­day with abil­ity would rather stay in their com­fort zones for rea­sons best known to them. I guess that is the choice they have, and one that works best for them­selves.

“One thing is for sure,” he said. “It’s any­one’s guess where the next po­ten­tial Guy Morris, Paul Hakim, Craig El­lis or Daniel Stan­ton is com­ing from.”

PHO­TOS: BEN AN­GEL

Hav­ing won gold in Vi­enna, Daniel Stan­ton will be a key man for Lions

Fo­cused: Tony Gold

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